Systemic clearance of p16INK4a-positive senescent cells mitigates age-associated intervertebral disc degeneration

Prashanti Patil, Qing Dong, Dong Wang, Jianhui Chang, Christopher Wiley, Marco Demaria, Joon Lee, James Kang, Laura J. Niedernhofer, Paul D. Robbins, Gwendolyn Sowa, Judith Campisi, Daohong Zhou, Nam Vo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rationale: Age-related changes in the intervertebral discs are the predominant contributors to back pain, a common physical and functional impairment experienced by older persons. Cellular senescence, a process wherein cells undergo growth arrest and chronically secrete numerous inflammatory molecules and proteases, has been reported to cause decline in the health and function of multiple tissues with age. Although senescent cells have been reported to increase in intervertebral degeneration (IDD), it is not known whether they are causative in age-related IDD. Objective: The study aimed to elucidate whether a causal relationship exists between cellular senescence and age-related IDD. Methods and Results: To examine the impact of senescent cells on age-associated IDD, we used p16-3MR transgenic mice, which enables the selective removal of p16Ink4a-positive senescent cells by the drug ganciclovir. Disc cellularity, aggrecan content and fragmentation alongside expression of inflammatory cytokine (IL-6) and matrix proteases (ADAMTS4 and MMP13) in discs of p16-3MR mice treated with GCV and untreated controls were assessed. In aged mice, reducing the per cent of senescent cells decreased disc aggrecan proteolytic degradation and increased overall proteoglycan matrix content along with improved histological disc features. Additionally, reduction of senescent cells lowered the levels of MMP13, which is purported to promote disc degenerative changes during aging. Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that systemic reduction in the number of senescent cells ameliorates multiple age-associated changes within the disc tissue. Cellular senescence could therefore serve as a therapeutic target to restore the health of disc tissue that deteriorates with age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12927
JournalAging cell
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by US National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants R01 AG044376 (NV), R01 CA122023 and R01 CA211963 (DZ), R01 AG009909 (JC), P01 AG043376 (PDR, LJN), U19 AG056278 (PDR, LJN), a Glenn/AFAR Award (LJN) and sponsored research programs from Unity Biotechnology (Zhou, D and Campisi, J). We would like to acknowledge the NIH‐supported microscopy resources in the Center for Biologic Imaging. Specifically, the confocal microscope was supported by grant number 1S10OD019973‐01.

Funding Information:
This study was supported by US National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants R01 AG044376 (NV), R01 CA122023 and R01 CA211963 (DZ), R01 AG009909 (JC), P01 AG043376 (PDR, LJN), U19 AG056278 (PDR, LJN), a Glenn/AFAR Award (LJN) and sponsored research programs from Unity Biotechnology (Zhou, D and Campisi, J). We would like to acknowledge the NIH-supported microscopy resources in the Center for Biologic Imaging. Specifically, the confocal microscope was supported by grant number 1S10OD019973-01.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors. Aging Cell published by the Anatomical Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • aggrecanolysis
  • aging
  • cellular senescence
  • intervertebral disc
  • p16
  • proteoglycan

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